Having Difficult Conversations with Employees

Mark Lawler

When I was a newly minted manager Symantec sent me to a Communication for Results class 3 times. Yes 3 times since as a propeller head and newly minted manger it just wasn’t sinking in. After the 3rd time I finally got it. It is a communications template for having difficult conversations with employees and/or business partners where a behavior needs to change. I’ve used it for 20 years with great results… It goes like this:

1) I’ve noticed that <behavior>.

2) It may be because <excuse>.

3) The impact it is having is <short list of impacts>.

4) It makes me feel <feelings>.

5) Let’s talk about this <some later date>.

Some psychologist way smarter than me figured out that this format for difficult conversations worked better than just about any other methodology. Being an engineer, I asked why the format was what it was. Here is what they…

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